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Next week, we’ll be hosting a live training about how to get free traffic from Google, and as I was preparing the training, we surveyed our audience to see what questions people have about SEO.

I received a lot of questions about keyword research, so in today’s article, I’m going to walk through some of the steps we take to identify the best SEO keywords for any type of business.

Step 1. Brainstorm the Obvious Keywords

SEO keyword research is sort of like using a thesaurus. You need to start with a list of keywords, which we call a “seed” list.

I recommend you start by brainstorming the most obvious phrases that your prospect would search to find your product or service.

For example, if you are a dentist in New York, most likely, people are going to search ‘New York City dentist’ or ‘NYC dentist’. Those are what I would call the obvious keywords.

Once you’ve brainstormed some obvious keywords, you’ll want to plug them into Google’s Keyword Planner. This tool will give you more keyword ideas, as well as search volume.

Step 2. Sort By Search Intent

Google’s keyword tool will spit back a bunch of keyword ideas, and these keyword ideas will generally fall into 2 categories…

  1. Keywords with purchase intent – where it’s obvious that prospects are looking to buy a product or hire a service provider.
  2. Keywords with research intent – where the prospect is most likely just doing research, and not ready to buy.

In our example above, “NYC Dentist” is a classic example of a purchase intent keyword. You’d search that if you were looking to make an appointment with a dentist.

However, “dentistry” would be an example of a research intent keyword. If somebody is searching “dentistry,” they’re probably not ready to go to a dentist quite yet. In fact, they may not be interested in going to a dentist at all. They could be researching the field of dentistry and considering becoming a dentist.

Your first priority when optimizing your website for SEO should be to optimize your homepage and product/service pages for “purchase intent” keywords.

Note: It’s important to optimize your website for “research intent” keywords too… typically that’s where you can find some really nice “low hanging fruit” opportunities to drive traffic in the short-term. But we recommend that as Phase 2 after optimizing your core pages for “purchase intent” keywords.

Step 3. Prioritize By Search Volume

As I mentioned, Google’s Keyword Planner Tool will also show you the search volume. By “search volume,” I mean how many times that particular keyword phrase is searched in Google every month.

You’ll see that some keywords are only searched ten times a month, some are searched thousands of times per month, and some are actually not searched at all. Of course, you want to avoid optimizing for keyword phrases that nobody’s searching for.

If you start with obvious keywords, and then sort by search intent, and prioritize by search volume, you’ll be well on your way to finding the best SEO keywords in your market.


By Phil Frost